Sunday, August 22, 2010

From Boardwalk to Kamchatka: my favorite board games

My wife, girls and I recently returned from our last big summer trip. When traveling with America's youth, I've discovered an important tenet: God forbid any moments of silent contemplation. To the children, nothing matches the sheer horror of the "b" word—boredom.

With this in mind, we consistently pack far too many forms of entertainment, especially DVDs and board games. Napoleon Dynamite has logged more miles in our car than Bristol Palin on her "Do as I say, not as I did, several times, actually" born again celibacy tour. And like most forty-something adults, I harbor a certain fondness for the old stalwart board games, those rainy-day, Milton Bradley, cardboard and plastic time burners.

In fact, I've compiled (surprise!) another top ten list, this time of my favorite board games:

10) Mouse Trap—Has anyone actually played this Rube Goldberg-esque game? I always just set the thing up and watched it go.

9) Candy Land—Just kidding. I hate this evil game. When my kids were little and asked me to play Candy Land, I had to say, "Okay, but first Daddy needs to brew up a big pot of coffee and drink the whole thing." I've literally nodded off while playing this mind-numbing, all-natural Ambien substitute.

8) Twister—I suppose technically, this isn't a board game, especially after the personal lubricant is introduced.

7) Risk—This is a bona fide, one hundred percent dude game. I will only play Risk while wearing my autographed, red officer's turtle neck  from the 1988 Star Trek Convention at the Sea Tac Red Lion. Sulu and Chekov signed it, and I would've gotten Scotty's signature, but he was super drunk and kept spitting on people, so I walked away from his table.

6) Operation—Good game, but too stressful and not anatomically correct. We all know that isn't an actual bone down there.

5) Battleship (Please note the female family members washing dishes in the kitchen.)—Also fun, but rife with cheating opportunities. If you get up to "use the bathroom," you can become an SR-71 jet, performing high-level reconnaissance above enemy waters.

4) Pictionary—This is quite entertaining while enjoying a few adult beverages with other couples, but be careful if you're paired with your significant other. You will still be held accountable, even though she only drew a circle and repeatedly pointed at it.

3) Trivial Pursuit—One of my favorites, probably because the most common answer is "zero."

2) Monopoly—Even though there are no recorded instances of this game being played to its completion, it's wonderful for teaching kids how to make change and become slum lords. It provides your child the additional benefit of occasionally seeing his or her sibling behind bars.

1) Scrabble—Another predominately adult game, since seasons can often change while waiting for someone to play their letters. How often have you been tempted to point out to your opponent, "Look, that 'q' in your hand won't work on the end of 'onyx' now or an hour from now, so either trade in your letters or pay me a dollar for each minute of my life of which you've robbed me."

I've left quite a few off the list, like Sorry, Chutes and Ladders, Stratego, Trouble, Cranium, Uno and Balderdash. Just make sure, when packing for your next vacation, to "accidentally" forget Candy Land.


  1. My cousin Margaret had Mystery Date. I'm still really not over it.

  2. I'm going to need to add Chutes and Ladders and Hi-Ho Cherry-O. Great to play as kids, but playing them with kids as an adult...those games NEVER end.

  3. You truly put a serious effort to keep your kids entertained. Nice. :) Inspiring, actually. We should be grateful for portable means of entertainment like board games. They do help a lot in family trips. And hey, by no means am I disagreeing with you, but I do like Candy Land. Ha-ha! I understand where you’re coming from though. LOL. I like this because it is something refreshing, not stressful to the mind. ;)

    Esmeralda Tabarez